A casino is a building that houses gambling games. Roughly 51 million people, or about a quarter of those who are 21 or older, visited casinos in the United States last year, according to the American Gaming Association. Casinos attract a wide variety of tourists from around the world, and are often located in exotic locales such as Las Vegas, Macau or South Africa.
Despite their shady reputation, many casinos have solid business plans. They all earn money from gamblers, who place bets on casino games of chance. Those bets are based on statistical probabilities that give the house a slight edge over the players, or vigorish. The vigorish is usually lower than two percent of the total bets, but it can add up to millions over time. This revenue helps casinos finance elaborate hotels, fountains, pyramids and replicas of famous towers and buildings.
Casinos also have security systems in place. Security staff keep watch over the tables, spotting blatant cheating methods such as palming or marking cards. Pit bosses and table managers watch over the games with a broader view, making sure that patrons don’t change bets mid-game or follow certain betting patterns that could signal cheating.
A few years ago, real estate investors and hotel chains with deep pockets realized the potential of casino profits, and bought out mob-owned casinos. Because federal crackdowns can occur at any hint of Mafia involvement, legitimate businessmen keep the mob away from their gambling cash cows.